Friday, September 19, 2008

Sperm Bank Users Just Ain't What They Used to Be

I was listening to the news this morning when I heard it casually mentioned that a large Los Angeles sperm bank had experienced a complete change in its primary clientele over the last few years.

It seems that, while the bank once catered primarily to infertile couples seeking artificial insemination, it now overwhelmingly served single women and lesbian couples who believed that a man was not necessary in their goal of having a baby (the newstalk folks said this in so many words, not me). Further, they had become very specialized in the donor traits requested by their clients. The customers are apparently quite determined to create designer children, according to their specifications.

As I listened to the "go girls" attitude of the newscasters, I got very sad. Sad for these women, sad for the men that could have been great dads to children they won't know, and sad most of all for the babies that will likely grow up adopting this warped view of the world.

At one time I would have cheered for this ideal. Every woman should have the right to bear her own child, right? And why wouldn't she, given the choice, put together the most optimal set of genes she can find? If she is approaching 40 with no eligible partner in sight, why wait?

However, since becoming a mother I have realized some very important things. First, having and raising a baby is much like a wedding is to marriage. The wedding is one day, but the marriage is the important thing. So it is with children. It is nice to be pregnant and bear your own child, but it is the actual mothering once the child is born that is the real deal. There are so many children who need loving homes, so faced with the very understandable desire of having a baby with no husband to provide one, I hope these women are moved to instead choose adoption.

Second, dads are not disposable. They are not biological means to an end. They are vitally important to the working of a healthy family. I believe that women in our society have become so used to being in control of everything that they are finding it increasingly more difficult to make the compromises necessary for happy marriages. Marriage is all about relinquishing sole control, something I know from experience can be very difficult (I'm a control freak myself)! But the fruits, especially where child rearing is concerned, are bountiful.

Finally, there is no such thing as a designer child. Children are people, organic creatures with flukes, faults and quirks just like us all. Isn't a mother setting herself up to be disappointed when her meant-to-be-perfect child turns out to have a learning disability or a physical flaw? How this thinking contributes to the overall view of our society that people are disposable! This fits right in with the idea that it is fine to abort a child that isn't perfect. Some of the greatest gifts God gives us are children with difficulties, for it is in learning to help, love and accept others as they are that makes us all better people.

Now, I am certain to have offended some people with this rant and I do apologize for that. I will openly acknowledge that it is easy to speak emphatically about this from where I sit. I have clearly never experienced infertility and I am blessed with the happiest marriage I can imagine. I cannot understand firsthand the motivations those not in my situation. However, it is precisely because I understand how amazingly wonderful the road to traditional parenthood can be that I wish it for everyone. But in order for more people to experience it, we as a society have to change some basic attitudes about entitlement.


Annie Bizzi said...

Well said. I read article after article about how the deliberate absence of fatherhood is the downfall of our society...this trend, these women, the culture of death are all focuses of much needed prayers.

Renee said...

From the other side, there are several adult children of sperm donation that have been speaking up on their rights to know who they are.

One blog, from an older woman of tradition sperm donation is "Whose Daughter?". Very interesting to read what happens when these children grow up.

Jennifer F. said...

Great post. I wrote on this topic a while back here if you have any interest. It is just so sad the way our culture now sees children as commodities and lifestyle accessories.